Life is funny, you know. On the one hand, a person strives to be better - to be the best person he or she can be - to grow closer to God by doing all the "right things" - to be "perfect," so to speak. On the other hand, we are reminded that it's not by our efforts that God's grace is given. It is in total abandonment that we are open to receiving Grace freely given.
Total abandon to God. What does that mean? That's where my prayer has taken me this week. How does one do that?
I met with my spiritual director this past Thursday. She tells me, "Nicole... relax... just be." Yeah, right, like that's an easy thing for me! I'm sure those of you who know me are laughing right now. I don't even think the word "relax" is in my vocabulary!
Why the words of wisdom? Because, it seems, I'm trying too hard... and not allowing God to do what God needs to do. In my efforts at trying to be "perfect" (Am I growing enough? Am I learning as much as I possibly can? Am I closer to God today than I was 2 weeks ago? and other such questions), I'm getting in God's way... And causing myself a little undue stress.
Stress is a strong word. But I use it in its most mild sense, if there is such a thing. You see, I'm a bit of a perfectionist... and I kinda like being in control... otherwise, how can I assure that everything will turn out the way I want it? (written, of course, with ironic humor) Sometimes I think God must just say, "Ahh, Nicole... relax... I've got it." But do I hear that? Nope. I'm usually spending too much time telling God what to do. *smile*
Several weeks ago I wrote about the purpose of the novitiate process. In that post, I quoted Fr. Paul Molinari, SJ as stating:
Under the same divine action, as the novice enters upon this time of initiation, he or she desires above all to acquire that loving familiarity with Christ leading to that knowledge of the heart possessed because of the deep unitive love that is present.... Clearly, what is required is that the novice, first and foremost, be given the opportunity to come to know Christ, not in any abstract and theoretical way, but by entering into an experience similar to that of the first disciples...
The Novitiate: Initiation into Christ's Way of Life
At the time that I quoted Fr. Paul, I understood this to at least somewhat depend upon my efforts. As if I could "make" this happen just by pure will. Right now, I just shake my head. It's not by my work. I have to be open and be receptive to the Spirit who is already at work in my life. It's not a matter of "doing all the right things" and reading all the books I can possibly get my hands on about growing in my spirituality. It's about total abandon to God... and being responsive to God's gentle guidance.
Of course, me being who I am, these are difficult realizations with which to live (from a practical standpoint). I still ask myself (almost daily), "What, exactly, does it mean to abandon myself to God?" And, of course, I ask "How do I know if I'm doing it right?" How ridiculous! There is no "right way." This is not exactly a precise science where everyone can follow the same method to get to a desired outcome. Oh, how much easier for me if the spiritual life was a science...
And so... how am I at the end of another week? I'm doing well.
I'm starting to see life... discernment... God... myself... in completely new ways. I'm questioning... and learning to live without all the answers. I'm learning that sometimes ambiguity is a good thing. And... that I can't force myself to grow closer in my relationship with Christ. There are things that help, OF COURSE (prayer, Eucharist, quiet, reflection etc.)... but all of that just allows me to be more receptive to the Grace that is showered upon me at every moment. A person, no matter what personality type, can't control Grace...
As I type this post, I smile. God has such interesting ways of teaching & guiding me. For God's patience, I am grateful. I seem to be a slow learner... *smile*
Thanks for checking in!